In preparation for Avengers: Infinity War, I’m watching all the Marvel Studios movies leading up to it.
Iron Man (2008)
When this movie was first announced, with Robert Downey Jr. as the lead, I could hardly believe it. Growing up, Iron Man and Fantastic Four were my two favorite comics. The Fantastic Four had gotten one okay movie and one not-so-great movie, but I really didn’t think Iron Man ever would. My first issue of Iron Man was issue 283. It was kind of a weird time to hop on board. War Machine had just been introduced, and Tony Star was about to “die” for the first of several times. I went back and read back issues of a lot of Bob Layton’s run. And in the years after it was an up and down experience as an Iron Man reader, from the lows of him being replaced by his teenage self (after betraying the Avengers in “The Crossing”) to the highs of the Kurt Busiek/Sean Chen run. Not to mention the redefining arc from Warren Ellis and Adi Granov. The latter of which would have a huge influence on this movie.
It’s crazy going back and watching this movie for the first time in years. I saw it well over a dozen times over the last decade, but it’s been 3-4 years. I feel like this is the most “real” Iron Man has ever felt. I kind of miss the sense of weight and the bulkiness of it that it has here. The movie looks great with Matthew Libatique’s cinematography. And the storyline, while pretty straightforward, is refreshingly small-scale. The chemistry between Pepper and Tony makes me wish it hadn’t been so long since the last Iron Man movie, although we got to see a little of them in subsequent films. The special effects have held up really well. The fact that director Jon Favreau used practical effects when possible, and the fact that the main SFX are metallic heroes helps, but it makes it no less impressive. I think Iron Man has actually looked less realistic in later movies at times.
I feel like sometimes people underrate Stane/Iron Monger as a villain when they write-off Marvel villains. He has a viewpoint, and motivation. Iron Monger’s lumbering menace is still really effective, though. And I like the personal angle with Stane. Sure, Stane ends up not being very nuanced once he makes his heel turn. But the betrayal there, and his act beforehand, is fun and effective. Especially for the villain in the origin movie. And he certainly FEELS like a threat, to me.
For a long time, I listed this as my favorite Marvel movie. Honestly, it’s still far up there. I don’t know where I’d rank everything right now. Maybe this re-watch of all the movies will help that. I do think some of the stuff Marvel has done since is better in some ways, but this is such a great foundation for the universe that’s to come. Also… still the best final line of any of these movies so far.